Issue 26: Sport

The ancient Olympic games were held every four years at the temple of Zeus. They were a major cultural and religious event that doubled as a contest between rivaling nation-states. Certain strands of mythology even suggest that Heracles, the strongest of mortal men, organized the event and built the Olympic stadium in honor of his father, Zeus. Today, few athletes devote their efforts to the honor of Zeus, but there remains a certain religiosity at work in sport’s place within Western culture. Honor and money, fame and fortune, character and fair play, skill and artistic perfection also remain at stake, just in new ways.

In this, our twenty-sixth issue of The Other Journal, we are looking at the ways in which sport is shaping and influencing contemporary life and thought. We are looking at the ethics, commodification, and embodiment of particular events; the personal and cultural stories which weave in and out of sport; and the ways in which those sport events first draw participants and fans in and then send their bodies back into the world. In short, we are interested in the many ways that sport and theology are interconnected and inform or critique one another.

Anna Masi

The Body is Well

Anna Masi ruminates on running, depression, and the gentle wisdom of Jean Vanier.

Meghan Florian


Meghan Florian considers how soccer influenced her feminist awakening.

Katie Karnehm-Esh


Katie Karnehm-Esh works toward a complicated yoga pose while also coming to peace with her divorce.

Gerald Lopez, Jen Grabarczyk-Turner

La Pasión del Luchador y el Artista Gerald Lopez

The Other Journal features art from the Latino artist Gerald Lopez, who creates images based on the Mexican sport of professional wrestling known as Lucha libre.

Brett Beasley

Runners and Losers

Brett Beasley finds that the marathon is the sport of those humble creatures who fail, but it is watched by those who still think that they are heroes.

Ed Goodman, Landon T. Huffman

Striving Together: A Call for Redemptive Sport Competition

Landon T. Huffman and Ed Goodman consider the ways in which sport competition should be viewed through the lens of redemption, pushing us to seek God’s transcendent purpose for, and displaying God’s glory through, sport by striving together.

redemptive sport
D. R. James

The Same Game

In this poem, D. R. James writes of all the ways in which your hometown basketball games haven’t changed.

Rebecca Parker Payne

There’s Always Crying in Sports

Rebecca Parker Payne writes about how crying in sports hints at something much bigger than weakness or sadness about losing.

Paul Arnold

Finding Our Feel for the Game

Paul Arnold demonstrates that if there is any meaning to be found in sports, it is to be found because of the body, not in spite of it.

Jennifer Stewart Fueston

A Swim

In this poem, Jennifer Stewart Fueston captures some of those thoughts that arise in the meditative underwater silence.

Justin R. Phillips

The Work of Play

Baseball was my first exposure to liturgy, my first immersion in the timekeeping of heaven.

Joel Looper

Will Love Cast Out Fear? The Syrian Refugees and Christian America

Not unlike the admonitions of Karl Barth and Dietrich Bonhoeffer, religious leaders’ calls to welcome the disenfranchised stranger often fall on deaf ears in their congregations. I can’t help but wonder what’s going on here. What has brought the American church to this place? Why are so many Christians going against their religious authorities on this particular issue?

Doug Webster

Intensity without Ultimacy: A Christian Perspective on Sports

Sports have gripped the soul of our culture, and they are not about to let go. ESPN and Fox Sports usher us from one mountaintop religious experience to another. Sports trigger our adrenaline and fire our passions. We are possessed, enthralled, and captivated by the spiritual power of sports. They do more than entertain us; […]

Lincoln Harvey

Jesus Christ and the Rules of the Game

Every sport has its rules, and these rules are central to the playing of the game: (1) the rules will define the game’s purpose; (2) they will outline the manner in which the players are to achieve that purpose; and (3) they will measure the players’ success toward achieving that purpose. As a result, a […]

Jeff Appel

Commercial Participation: Modern Sports Fandom and Sacramental Ontology

I have been wrestling with the nature of fandom, mulling over my attachment to one of the NFL’s most beloved and most successful franchises, the Super Bowl 50 Champion Denver Broncos. I grew up as an active and athletic child in sunny Denver, Colorado, during the 1980s and 1990s. And when it comes to sports […]

sacramental ontology